Sunday, August 22, 2010

Curried Tuna and Peas

Why don't you taste it first?
I'm not sure if I broke my own rules this week, because when I selected this recipe, I wasn't sure if this would be awful, per se, but there are elements here that are consistent with many of the mid-century dishes I've come across, so I thought it would be fun anyway. 

This is pretty typical of the casserole style dishes I've seen... a tin of tuna here, some frozen peas there, a can of mushroom soup over top of rice, and voila!, you've got dinner!  I'm actually impressed that the recipe uses curry, as many of the dishes seem downright afraid of seasoning of any sort (calling for a few grains of pepper, or a drop of pickle juice, etc).  This recipe book (Better Homes and Gardens: Jiffy Cooking) is especially geared towards convenience, thus a focus on ingredients which could be found in a typical cupboard without a special trip to the store.

I mean, let's imagine you're a housewife in 1967.  Let's imagine that you've spent a few too many hours imagining Paul Newman*... and Paul Newman's electrifying blue eyes.  And Paul Newman's strong, toned body pressing you up to the wall.  And Paul Newman's hands: one wrapped in your hair as his mouth descends to cover yours; the other hand gripping your waist, the only thing keeping your trembling knees from giving out then and there.  And Paul Newman's firm... Wait!  Was that the door?  Awww crap! The kids are home from school!  What will you do for supper? You can't go grocery shopping now that the little hellions are back, and you need to have dinner on the table by the time your non-Paul Newman husband is home from work.  Look in the cupboard.  What do you have?  Hmmm... Mushroom soup, a can of tuna, some rice, a jar of curry powder that your hippy neighbour gave you last year, a bag of frozen peas in the freezer.  Do you have a recipe that calls for all these items?  Why, yes! Yes, you do!  And you'll be able to make that meal in only about 20 minutes, so you can kick the kids out into the backyard while you perfect your Paul Newman fantasy and still have plenty of time to get dinner ready!  Hooray for Jiffy Cooking!

So, as you can see in the picture, the Curried Tuna and Peas casserole doesn't look very appetizing. The peas and chunks of tuna are just kind of suspended in the creamy yellow goo, and it smells like curry, but at the same time, it really smells like tuna.  I don't know about you, but tuna and curry are not tastes I'd ever considered combining.

It doesn't taste too bad, though.  My husband, (who usually takes one tiny, wimpy bite of my creations and then hides under a pile of coats until they are all gone) ate a sizeable portion of this, and then went back for seconds.  If you ever ate Tuna Helper when you were a kid, it tastes a lot like that... only with curry.  This actually reminds me of the sort of thing I liked to eat in university, or when I first moved out on my own. 

*Ladies, please take this opportunity to do a Google image search for images of Paul Newman from the 50's and 60's.  You're welcome.

Curried Tuna and Peas
Blend 1/2 cup of milk into one 10 1/2 -ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder and heat to boiling.  Carefully stir in one 6 1/2- or 7-ounce can of tuna, drained, and 1 cup frozen peas.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Serve over hot cooked rice.  Makes 4 servings.

This recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens: Jiffy Cooking.  Published in 1967.


  1. I do like the sound of that Paul Newman fantasy,maybe I'll have to find myself the "Cooking in a Jiffy, While Fantasizing Over Dreamy Actors" cook book.

  2. when I was growing up, I couldn't remember the full name of it, so I called it "My Favorite" - when I asked for it, my mom made THIS. :) --and I'm making it tonight in fact, now that I'm an adult.

  3. As horrible as this might sound, try adding grated sharp cheddar cheese and bake the mix in the oven, it's delicious!